SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The merging of three Spartanburg County fire districts could be coming soon, and it’s a change that would force residents and those fire departments to adapt.

“Times in the fire departments are changing, especially the way we operate in Spartanburg County,” said Chris Massey, fire services coordinator for Spartanburg County.

The merger would require approval from the county council and would likely include a hefty tax increase for residents who live in the impacted fire districts. While some fire district commissioners are hesitant to ask residents to pay more in taxes, others are calling it a compromise to provide better service, as well as full-time, paid firefighters.

“In today’s time, we understand everybody is having hard times economically, you know, the inflation and everything going on but in the same breath, if I’m hungry, I go to the store and buy a loaf of bread and I know now its three, four, five dollars more than it used to be a few years ago,” said Massey. “It’s the same way with fire service. If you want the service, sometimes you have to pay a little extra for it. For quality service also.”

Drayton’s fire department board said the idea sparked after watching other Spartanburg County fire departments merge. As a part of a master plan in Spartanburg County,  a consulting team was hired to evaluate fire service. They are the ones who suggested the idea of merging the three districts to the county council. 

Drayton fire said now they are working with the fire commision boards at Glendale and Pacolet’s stations to finalize a decision.

“We are still in discussions, the commissioners of the three boards have not made a decision yet and we’re just merging to give better service for all three communities and no decision has been made whatsoever we’re just in the discussion phase,” said Kathy Rogers, Drayton Fire commissioners board.

This all comes as the county continues to grow, but also as less people are willing to volunteer.

“It’s just a generational thing, it’s not as popular to volunteer,” said Massey. “Another thing is the training requirements of a volunteer. The training requirements are the same whether you’re a professional or a volunteer and a lot of people with jobs and families and other things to do just don’t want to put in that effort like they used to, but that’s needed.”